Something Wicked This Way Comes: A Novel

This American classic (352 pages) was published in October of 2017 by Simon and Schuster. The book takes you to a small town in 1930s Illinois. Melissa read Something Wicked This Way Comes and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes

A Novel

Ray Bradbury

In this modern Gothic classic, the lives of two boys are changed forever when a sinister traveling carnival rolls into their Illinois town.

Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show is irresistible. It arrives by train, sometime after midnight, bringing Halloween a week early and enthralling Will Halloway (“thirteen years, eleven months, and twenty-four days old”) and his neighbor and constant companion Jim Nightshade. One blonde, one dark-haired, they’re as different and similar as best friends can be.

One night, as they explore the carnival grounds, they run afoul of the carnies — an illustrated man with tattoos that seem to come to life, an insane dwarf, a Dust Witch. And they see something they should never have seen. This sets off a chain of events that threatens to permanently destroy the innocence of their small town.

This is a big adventure story with plenty of action. But underneath the sparkle and danger of the carnival, this story is about love and courage and how life is beautiful and worth living, even when it’s hard and messy. It’s about friendship and loyalty and good versus evil — and just how unpleasant it can be to try to be a good person. It’s also about how, when we’re young, we can’t wait to be grownup — and when we’re old, all we want is to be young forever.

If you’ve associated Ray Bradbury only with science fiction, this novel’s beautiful prose and heartfelt sentiment will surprise you, as it makes your spine tingle. Bradbury’s clever turns of phrase beg to read aloud, and the audiobook, narrated by actor Christian Rummel, strikes the perfect warm tone.

The train skimmed on softly, slithering, black pennants fluttering, black confetti lost on its own sick-sweet candy wind, down the hill, with the two boys pursuing, the air was so cold they ate ice cream with each breath. — Ray Bradbury

*Spooky fun for your ears: Listen to the song Something Wicked (That Way Went) by the steampunk band Vernian Process.

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